Professor Thomas Spear Awarded the AHA Leland Prize

Earlier this semester we shared some wonderful news on behalf of Professor Thomas Spear whose The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography won the American Historical Association‘s Leland Prize. For more on Dr. Spear’s publication and award, read our feature here.

Read the official statement from AHA below.




Thomas Spear, University of Wisconsin–Madison, The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources editor (Oxford Univ. Press)

An extraordinary achievement of interdisciplinary innovation, international collaboration, temporal depth, and ecological breadth, the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography surveys, assesses, and models pathbreaking methods for the understanding of human and nonhuman history throughout and beyond the African continent. From anthropology and archaeobotany in the Bantu-speaking regions to digital resources and oral histories among the Zulu, this expansive, well-indexed, and pedagogically inspiring volume showcases sophisticated and cutting-edge contributions from multidisciplinary, transgeographical Africanist scholarship past and present.

Waldo G. Leland Prize

This prize, established by the AHA Council in 1981, is offered every five years for the most outstanding reference tool in the field of history. It is named after Waldo G. Leland, a distinguished contributor to bibliographical guides, who served as secretary to the Association from 1909 to 1920.

“Reference tool” encompasses bibliographies, indexes, encyclopedias, and other scholarly apparatus. The award is honorific. See the list of past recipients.

The general rules for submission are:

1. Books with an copyright between 2021 and 2025 will be eligible for the prize in 2026.

2. Nomination submissions may be made by an author or by a publisher. Publishers may submit as many entries as they wish. Authors or publishers may submit the same book for multiple AHA prizes.

3. Nominators must complete an online prize submission form for each book submitted.

4. One copy of each entry must be sent to each committee member and clearly labeled “Leland Prize Entry.” Print copies preferred unless otherwise indicated. If only e-copy is available, please contact review committee members beforehand to arrange submission format.

Please Note: Entries must be received by May 15, 2026, to be eligible for the 2026 competition. Recipients will be announced on the AHA website in October 2026 and recognized during a ceremony at the January 2027 AHA annual meeting.

Waldo G. Leland Prize Recipients An honorific prize established by Council in 1981, the Leland Prize recognizes the outstanding reference tool in history over a five-year period. The prize honors Waldo G. Leland (d. 1966), the distinguished contributor to bibliographical guides and a life member of the AHA who served as secretary to the Association from 1909 to 1920.


2021 Thomas Spear, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Historiography: Methods and Sources (Oxford Univ. Press)


2016 Peter Powell, editor, In Sun’s Likeness and Power: Cheyenne Accounts of Shield and Tipi Heraldry, 2 vols., by James Mooney (Univ. of Nebraska Press)


2011 Michael Cook, general editor, The New Cambridge History of Islam, 6 vols. (Cambridge Univ. Press)


2006 Rosemary Keller, editor; Rosemary Ruether, editor; and Marie Cantlon, associate editor, Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America (Indiana Univ. Press)


2001 John Garraty, editor, and Mark Carnes, editor, American National Biography, 24 vols. (Oxford Univ. Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies)


1996 Barbara Tenenbaum, editor in chief, Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. 5 vols. (Charles Scribner’s Sons)


1991 Israel Gutman, editor-in-chief, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (Macmillan)


1986 Kenneth Martis, editor, The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts (Macmillan)


1981 Stephan Thernstrom, editor, Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press)